Sanrio can suck it
For those unfamiliar with cutesy stuff from Japan, San-X is a company that creates characters that are plastered all over stationary, novelty items, and the like. Not unlike Sanrio, who is responsible for Hello Kitty, Badtz Maru, Keroppi, ect, San-X is very popular and probably best known for characters like Rilakuma, Tare Panda, and Afro-Ken, among many others. Mascots are big in Japan and people are willing to pay stupid amounts of money for anything with their favorite characters slapped on it, this includes mediocre video games. I found a copy when I was at Classic Gaming Expo in Las Vegas last month. It was the only Japanese DS game the vendor had and I’d be damned if I was leaving a gaming convention without picking up a couple of obscure titles.
While the description of San-X Land: Theme Park de Asobou says that it’s an action game, it more accurately falls under the category of ‘Party Game’. Like, you know, Mario Party, or Sonic Shuffle, which is pretty much a less entertaining rip-off of Mario Party. San-X Land places you in a theme park based on characters from their various franchises. You can choose from 8 different characters, each with their own themed game board. When picking up this game I was only somewhat familiar with 4 of the 8 characters; Tare Panda, Monokuro Boo, Kogepan, and Nyanko. The other 4 characters are Afro-Ken, Mikan Bouya, Wanroom, and Nanka. Nanka wasn’t even in the san-x wiki of characters so I had to go back to the game and decipher the hiragana and look it up on Google Japan. I don’t even know what this character is supposed to be anyways. It’s like a seal with a phallus protruding from his head or something. Nan…ka? Oh! It’s a word play joke (an informal way of saying “what is this?”), you cheeky, cheeky bastards.
So once you’ve chosen a character, it’s time to get on with the game. Each board is played out the same no matter who you choose. You spin a wheel to choose the number of spaces you move. The boards are fairly small, but even if you reach the goal you will be turned around because you need to first finish a puzzle of an image of your character, each piece being obtained by either landing on a particular place or playing any of the various mini games. The mini games include said puzzle, slide puzzles, mix and match memory games, a random cut scene, or character specific action mini games. These action mini games are just about the only fun you’ll have playing this game at all, unless you get your thrills from puking rainbows and sparkles on to fluffy woodland creatures and furniture with animal faces on them. Each of the action mini games can be played on easy, medium or hard, and even on hard they aren’t hard, not in the least bit. Of the 8 character specific games, I’d have to say that Tare Panda’s is the most entertaining. It’s a balancing game where you must stack pudgy pandas on top of one another without all of them toppling over. It’s fantastic, really, the first couple times you play it. After you’ve unlocked everything, you can just play the mini games by accessing them from the start menu, so it’s not necessary to have to actually play the game to get to the fun part.
The only reason you would want to play through this game more than once is to unlock everything. Luckily for me, whoever had this game before me must have been fluent in Japanese and must have also had OCD, because everything was already unlocked. All of the characters, their stupid digital trading cards, all of the art, the mini-games, everything was at 100%. This game would have been damn near impossible to review accurately otherwise(as I’m NOT fluent in Japanese). This game is, more than anything, a novelty. Something for the fanatics of the mascot trend to add to their ever-growing collections of fluffy stuffs. It’s one of those games that you might want to try if it just happens to be around, but nothing I would recommend going out of your way to play.
San-X Land: Theme Park de Asobou gets a 6.5/10
And why does Sanrio suck more than San-X? Click here.